Columbus Crew SC officials have confirmed their interest in launching a development team as early as 2021, but some details about the potential club remain unsettled.
The Crew as an organization is about to embark on a period of transition that includes a new stadium planned for a summer 2021 opening. Opening a new stadium will be part of a larger facility facilities initiative for the organization, as there are plans to redevelop MAPFRE Stadium–its current home–as part of a project that would include a training academy and a sports park.
There could also be a development team launched in the coming years, as general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has confirmed the Crew’s interest in establishing such a club. Several key details have not been finalized at this point–including when and where the club could begin play (though Columbus is the preferred location), along with the league in which it could compete–and Bezbatchenko emphasized that the Crew wants to be diligent in considering its options. More from the Columbus Dispatch:
The club is hoping to unveil its new training facility adjacent to Mapfre Stadium in conjunction with the opening of the new stadium. The Crew is constructing development plans for the new training facility with space for a reserve team.
Bezbatchenko said nothing is finalized yet for when Crew II would begin competition or where the club would play, though the preference is Columbus. The Crew could wait until 2022 to field its reserve team.
“It’s an expense that we have to make sure we do in a prudent way over the course of the next few months,” Bezbatchenko said.
The future plans of Mapfre Stadium also include eventually eliminating the upper bowl seating.
The Crew currently lacks a direct USL affiliate. Division II USL Championship or Division III USL League One could be a viable circuit for the Crew’s development club, though it remains to be seen how the organization will proceed in the future.
Image of Columbus Crew action courtesy Columbus Crew SC.